All the materials and forces are at hand and easily available for the production of all things needed to provide food and shelter for every man, woman and child, thus putting an end to the poverty and misery. But the raw material, the machinery and transport must be taken from private ownership and control to be fully socialised, and democratised and then set into operation for the common good of all. A privately owned world can never be free and a society based upon class conflict cannot be at peace. Such a world is a place of strife and such a society can only survive by means of militarism and physical force.
What is it that divides the Socialist Party many anarchists? Like ourselves, they are for the working class. The emancipation of the workers is our common aim. The point of difference here between socialists and anarchists is not one as to the form of organisation of the future society, or of the details of such organisation. It is not that socialists wish to impose on the future society a huge bureaucratic system, spreading its tentacles, octopus-like, over all the arrangements of social life, suppressing individuality, and reducing every detail of daily life to rule and plan. All socialists are rebels against any kind of enslavement and exploitation. But the Socialist Party does stand for social ownership and social control, whereas there are many who consider themselves anarchists, while still professing to be a socialist and to believe in social ownership, are critical of social control and propose some form of workers’ control over production. So there is a difference in the conception of future society of the socialist and that of some anarchists. The very essence of socialism, as the word connotes, is that society, the community at large, has interests superior to those of any individual or section of it. This is a basic difference between the socialist and the anarchist.
It is the aim of socialists to deprive the capitalists of the means of production. But that in itself is not enough. We must also determine who is to control these means of production. When another minority takes the place of the capitalists and controls the means of production, independently of the people and frequently against their will, the change in property relations does not signify socialism.
It is very interesting to speculate on the future arrangements of society, but it is not in our power to say that these arrangements will be this or that and any discussion on this matter must necessarily be of an academic character. We are not called upon to make rules for future society; we can very well afford to let society at the time to take care of itself in that respect. Nor should diverging speculations as to future society prevent people working together for a common object.
There are anarchists who believe that even under the limited conditions of today’s democracy workers should utilise the methods of the insurrectionary general strike, because, in their opinion, such methods will bring socialism more quickly than the casting of ballots, and that in the final analysis the opponents of socialism in the democratic states will yield only to insurrection and the general strike. They assert that socialists cannot hope to attain an electoral majority as long as the opponents of socialism retain control over the economic centres and the mass media. The Socialist Party reply: For sure, the power at the disposal of the capitalist, the economic dependence of the workers, the influence of the media and the stealing of elections can be brought into play even under democracy. But a Socialist Party which is unable, regardless of these obstacles, to obtain the support of a majority of the people in a democracy will find it even more impossible to obtain such a majority by the use of armed force or the general strike. For in the latter instance the weapons at the disposal of the opponents of socialism will prove even more effective than under the form of democratic struggle. The road of force and violence requires even greater sacrifices from the working class than the road of democracy. The use of force and violence requires the support of a much greater majority of the people if socialism is to win. When force is pitted against force, the power at the disposal of the ruling classes comes much more into play and to counter that power we would require the support of an overwhelming majority of the people. The superiority of numbers is the sole decisive weapon the workers’ movement can command in any great decisive contest. Both insurrection and general strike have proven quite useless, however, when they were utilised by a minority. The vote is the shortest, surest and least costly road to socialism. Our exploiters are not unaware of this fact. Hence, their their efforts to emasculate the franchise wherever they can. It would be nonsensical to contend that the Socialist Party is obliged to use democratic methods under all circumstances. Such an obligation we can assume only with respect to those who themselves use only democratic methods. The capitalist masters in some countries will stop at nothing to maintain themselves when they are confronted with the danger of expropriation. Acts of violence cannot be repelled by ballots, newspaper articles or mass meetings. Nevertheless, in circumstances when the Socialist Party is compelled to meet violence with violence we must first seek to win the support of the majority. This is the essential prerequisite of victory, regardless of whether they apply democratic or other methods. However, the “Iron Heel” is simply the ruling class ultimate weapon. The capitalists resort more often than not to economic than military instruments, just as the working class in the great decisive political struggles fought with economic rather than military weapons. The methods pursued by the capitalists are essentially the same as those used by the workers: the strike, the crippling of production. The workers fight by stopping work; the capitalists fight by stopping the circulation of capital. By this means they have succeeded in overthrowing governments which they regard as inimical to their interests.
Where democracy does not exist the task before the labour movement is to establish political freedom. It is quite erroneous to say that the workers must first emancipate themselves economically, and that only then will “true” democracy be possible. It makes no difference whether or not we choose to regard a strong representative assembly of the people, elected by universal equal suffrage, and coupled with freedom of the press, speech and organisation, as mere “formal” “bourgeois" democracy. The fact is that without such institutions the workers cannot emancipate themselves economically. To be sure, democratic institutions will change their character when society will be organised on a socialist basis. Today they are essential instruments of struggle for the working class. Socialist will make them instruments of free social administration. And this will constitute the difference between present day democracy and the democracy of a socialist society.
The Socialist Party fights not for shorter working hours and higher wages. These struggles are the responsibility of more fitting organisations - the trade unions, but for the liberty, equality, fraternity of all human beings, regardless of occupation, gender, colour or creed. Our task is not merely to abolish the capitalist order but to set up another in its place. It is for this reason that the democratically-minded must oppose all tendencies threatening the freedom of society’s members, tendencies manifested not only by the capitalists but also those that originate with anti-capitalist groups. A true socialist commonwealth must represent the realisation of the slogan of the French Revolution, which was “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.”